The Loyalists: Facts Bearing on the Approaching Centennial.

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The Loyalists: Facts Bearing on the Approaching Centennial.
J. W. Lawrence
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1, 2
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THE LOYALISTS. Facts Bearing on the Approaching Centennial. Letters of J.W. Lawrence, Esq. No. 4. Hon. Robert Duncan Wilmot, Lieutenant Governor. SIR: A brief summary of the leading incidents in the life of New Brunswick’s first Law student, may awaken an interest with the Bench and Bar, in a Memorial to the founders of the Province. Jonathan Sewell, its first law student, was born at Boston, Mass., 6th June, 1766. His father, after whom he was named, married a daughter of Edmund Quincy. Her sister was the wife of John Hancock, the first signer of Independence, the first Governor of the State of Massachusetts. Jonathan Sewell was at one time Attorney General of Massachusetts Bay. He left Boston with his wife and two sons at its Evacuation, 17th March, 1776, for England. Young Jonathan with his brother Stephen was placed at the Bristol Grammar School. They made rapid progress, as the following from his father 1782, to Ward Chipman at New York show: “I have the most pleasing accounts of my two boys from their masters. Jonathan is now well fitted for college, he also draws and plays prettily. Their powers are of a different cast, Jonathan’s are impetuous and penetrating, -- Stephen’s are calm and solid; Jonathan’s impetuosity is such as hurries him thro’ errors and mistakes, because he cannot stop to look a second time at what he does not comprehend at first glance – while on the other hand such is Stephen’s cool patience, that until he is certain his first step is right, nothing can induce him to attempt the second. The one submits his judgement to rules – the other trusts to the quickness of his apprehension. Should they both be bread to the Bar, Jonathan will turn out the most captivating Orator, and Stephen the thorough Lawyer. Should they and you live till they reach maturity, I believe you will be convinced this is a pretty exact outline of their characters. I think music and dancing are amusements, which may serve to keep them out of mischief, sometimes when they are from under my eye. Stephen has just begun music, he takes it with astonishing ease. “Not long since several lads at the Grammar School undertook to act the tragedy of Cato, under the management of Mr. Lee their master; they were tutored by an old gentleman who was formerly an eminent player. The school room was prettily fitted up with stage and scenery. Jonathan played Cato, Stephen Decimus, all were properly habited, upwards of one hundred ladies and gentlemen were present – it was played two nights to universal admiration. Jonathan bore the bell, but I assure you the little Roman Ambassador Decius, spoke the little he had to say to my great astonishment. “Two of the first tragedians were present and in raptures with them all, but especially with Jonathan, who I will venture to say, played his part equal to any acting I have seen in England, not was I alone in my opinion, -- but enough of my boys, it serves to fill up the sheet and indulge parental fondness. Pray in your next let me know who Mrs. Sewell’s father, Quincy has married; I hear her name is Gerrish, but whether widow or maid I cannot learn.” One of the tragedians present was Mrs. Siddons; she was so much pleased with Jonathan, that she sent him the following complimentary lines from her pen: The world is dull and seldom gives us cause For Joy, Surprise or well deserved applause, Young Heaven taught Sewell! behold in thee Sufficient cause for all the three, Thy rising genius managed Cato’s part To charm away and captivate the heart, ’Tis rare for boys like thee to play the man, There are but few in years who nobly can, But thou a youth of elegance and ease, In Cato’s person, to perform and please, Hast common Youth and Manhood both outdone And proven thyself dame nature’s chosen son. LETTER FROM YOUNG SEWELL TO WARD CHIPMAN. BRISTOL, 2d February, 1783. Dear Sir: Every intelligence from you must give me satisfaction; consequently your last afforded me the highest pleasure. The opinion you are kind enough to entertain of me, and the compliments you bestow upon me, while they flatter and at the same time excite some degree of vanity, will I hope prove further incitements to my perseverance in the path you so earnestly recommend in the pursuit of my studies. I am fully sensible of the justice and propriety of the observations contained in your last, and easily perceive the value of a good education which thro’ the kind affection of my father I have amply enjoyed, and I will endeavor and strive to the utmost of my poor abilities to accomplish what is the sole object of his care, and for which I am fully persuaded you sincerely wish, that I may in some measure answer the expectations which you and my honored Parent have placed upon me, and partly return the many favors I have received and which are daily accumulating. The enconiums you bestow upon my drawings, I assure you flatter me not a little; the major part I attribute to friendship and purblind esteem, or rather will not behold those faults which are conspicuous to others. I am now drawing in oil-colors for the first time, and am taking off a cat which we have, the very image of our Roger at Cambridge, which I hope soon to have the pleasure of shewing you at Halifax. Your agreeable situation at New York, gives me the greatest satisfaction, and I hope your felicity will continue uninterrupted through a series of years. You see I profit by your hint of writing upon any subject, and have skipped from one thing to another. I have now neither time nor paper to relate many particulars which I could otherwise have done, and my letter being called for, can only subscribe myself, Yours with unfeigned sincerity, Your obliged friend, J. SEWELL, JUN. WARD CHIPMAN, Esq., New York. In 1784, Jonathan Sewell entered Brazenose College, Oxford. He was not long there, before he embarked for New Brunswick, to enter the law office of Ward Chipman, who had written for him. DISTINGUINED ARRIVALS AT HALIFAX FOR NEW BRUNSWICK. HALIFAX, 29th April, 1785. Dear Chipman: Two days ago Jonathan Bliss, young Sewell, Captain Sproule and family, Mrs. Putnam, daughter and son, arrived here in 30 days from London. Yesterday I dined with Bliss and Sewell, who is one of the pleasantest lads I ever saw. I shall pay every possible attention to him. He is extremely anxious to get to New Brunswick. I regret I cannot set off with him. I hope he is to make one of your family. . . . . . Yours, EDW. WINSLOW. On Jonathan Sewell’s arrival he entered the law office of Ward Chipman, and at the end of three years was admitted at the July term in 1788 an Attorney, and a year later a Barrister. In the summer of 1786, his father, mother and brother arrived at St. John from England. Stephen entered the Law office of Ward Chipman as a student. JONATHAN SEWELL AT FREDERICTON. On the invitation of Edward Winslow young Sewell in the summer of 1786 made a visit to Fredericton. While there, the first Court was opened, followed by the trial and conviction of Nelson and Harboard, farmers, and formerly soldiers, for the shooting of an Indian, who was suspected of stealing pigs. The Indian with his squaw at the time of the shooting was crossing the river about twenty-seven miles above Fredericton in a canoe. When her husband was shot, she paddled it to an Island where there was an Indian encampment. Chief Justice Ludlow with Judge Allen was on the Bench, with Ward Chipman prosecuting officer. The prisoners were sentenced to be executed on the 23d of June, nine days after the opening of the Court, and less than one month after the shooting of the Indian. FREDERICTON, 6th July, 1786. Dear Sir: Poor Harboard has been out of his senses, when they told him he was reprieved, that he suffered what was worse than death, and was perfectly indifferent about his Execution. He has now returned to his former habitation. Parson Beardsley did not think proper to attend the unfortunate Nelson the day of his exit, although he was as you remember particularly requested. I shall write the Doctor a particular account of my present feelings. I am not so well as I expected to be. Yours Truly, JON. SEWELL, Jun. WARD CHIPMAN, Esq. The impression at the time was, if Nelson had not been executed, the Indians would have had vengeance, but on seeing justice done they were peaceful afterwards. In the summer of 1788, Jonathan Sewell commenced practice at St. John. The Hon. Daniel Bliss, of Sunbury, entered his son, John Murray Bliss, as a student. REMOVES TO LOWER CANADA. “Where, if he rises to station of command, Rises by open means and there will stand, On honorable terms or else retire, And in himself possess his own desire; Who comprehends his trust, and to the same Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim; And, therefore, does not stoop nor lie in wait For wealth, or honor, or worldly state, Whom they must follow, on whose head must fall Like showers of manna, if they come at all.” ST. JOHN, N. B., 26th July, 1879. Dear Sir, -- I should have done myself the honor of answering your letter sooner had I not been prevented by a variety of business which I was compelled to complete before leaving the Province, which I do this day, for Quebec. I have left all your papers in the hands of Ward Chipman, Esq., who will follow any directions which you will give him respecting them. Excuse my haste and allow me to add that I have the honor to be Your most obedient servant and kinsman, J. SEWELL, JUN. SAMUEL SEWELL, ESQ., Marblehead, Mass. On the 30th October, 1789, Jonathan Sewell was admitted to the Quebec bar. At this time Canada was governed by a Governor General and Council. The former was Lord Dorchester, better known as Sir Guy Carleton. QUEBEC, 2 July, 1792. Dear sir, -- This is the sixth day of our July term, which continues fifteen days; it is a banner one, one lawyer only beside myself have issued any writs during the vacation, and you may judge how I stand in the public favor when I tell you I have issued two to his one, and have the defence of every suit where there is a defence to be made. We have witnessed as warm an election (in comparison) for our lower and upper town, and our county of Quebec, as ever Westminster or Middlesex experienced. I wish I could inform you of the particulars; I can only say that at the county election His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, signalised himself much to his credit, and to the great confusion of one party who to their disgrace attempted, by every means, to keep alive that odious distinction of French and English. His Highness harangued the multitude in a style that would have received approbation from the tongue of an experienced speaker, and addressed some of the gentlemen Canadians, the head of the party in such a way, as rendered them the contempt of the public. He secured the election of two worthy men by his well timed address. His language was so marked to one of the French gentlemen, that he meant to commence an action against the Prince; he was, however, afterwards better advised. I wish he had, for his Royal Highness’ defence would, I have every reason to believe, have fallen into my hands. The election is contested and a petition to the House, where I am retained for the sitting members and will, I hope, keep them sitting. With my compliments to Mrs. Chipman and Ward, whom I expect to see in Canada a few years at most, Your ever obliged and obedient servant, JON. SEWELL, JR. Ward Chipman, Esq. QUEBEC, 7th December, 1793. My Dear Sir: Your letter of 28th of October reached me yesterday. Our Chief Justice died yesterday after a tedious and flattering illness, which led us from day to day to look for his recovery. Nothing can exceed the confusion which his death will create. It will be a heavy blow to the political interests of Canada, from which she will not recover for many years. The legal affairs suffer most especially, for we can never have a Chief Justice superior either in ability, integrity or experience to Mr. Smith. I never expect to see his equal in his successor who ever he may be. My spirits on this occasion are very far below their proper standard. I feel his loss as that of my best friend, independent of any share in the public concern. Sincerely your most obliged pupil, [Signed] JON. SEWELL, JR. WARD CHIPMAN, ESQ. Death had made wide breaches in the high places at the Lower Canadian Bench and Bar. In 1791 Attorney General Gray died, followed in 1793 by the death of Chief Justice Smith. In the latter year Mr. Sewell, although only twenty-six, was appointed Solicitor General, the office held in New Brunswick at the time by Ward Chipman, in whose office he studied. In 1795 he was elected for William Henry (Sorrel), which place he continued to represent in three consecutive Parliaments. This year he was appointed Attorney General, and also Judge of the Court of Vice- Admiralty. In September, 1796, he married Miss Smith, the youngest daughter of the late Chief Justice. In 1808, Mr. Sewell was Chief Justice of Lower Canada and President of the Executive, and the year following, speaker of the Legislative Council. In the latter year, Attorney General, Jonathan Bliss was appointed Chief Justice of New Brunswick, and Ward Chipman, Sr., a Puisne Judge in 1814. In 1814, Chief Justice Sewell left for England, the Governor General placing a transport at his service. After an absence of two years he returned, and, on landing at Quebec, had the compliment of a salute form the citadel. In 1832, Harvard University conferred on the Chief Justice the degree of LL.D., Washington Irving receiving it at the same time. In 1838, Jonathan Sewell received Her Majesty’s permission to retire from the Bench, and on the recommendation of Earl Durham, Governor General, the Imperial Government granted a pension of £1,000 sterling per annum. The following, from a tablet in Trinity Church, Quebec, summarises the life of New Brunswick’s first law student:-- In Memory of JONATHAN SEWELL, LL.D., The pious and liberal founder of this chapel. Endowed with talent of no common order. He was selected in early life to fill the highest offices in the Province. He was appointed Solicitor General in 1793. Attorney General and Advocate General and Judge of the Court of Vice Admiralty in 1795. Chief Justice of the Province and Chairman of the Executive Council in 1808. Speaker of the Legislative Council in 1809. Distinguished in his public capacity. He shone equally conspicuous as a statesman and a jurist. Naturally mild and courteous, he combined the meekness of a Christian, with the authority of the judge. Beloved at home as a kind father, a firm friend, and a kind husband. Respected abroad as an acknowledged example of truth, faithfulness and integrity, he has left a name to which not only his descendants in all future ages, but his country also, may view with just pride, deep reverence and grateful recollection. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, June 6, 1766, and died in this city in the fullness of the faith of Christ, November 12, 1839, in the 74th year of his age. This tribute to departed worth is erected by his sorrowing widow. How ennobling the lesson of the life of New Brunswick’s first law student. Of the many illustrious at its bar in the long line of a century, Jonathan Sewell stands second to none. When Ward Chipman, in 1820, laid out his land north of Carleton street, the first street opened, he named “Sewell” after his first and most distinguished pupil. In the erection of a memorial to the Loyalists, the bench and bar of New Brunswick should honor the men who, in the morning of its history, ennobled the profession. 1785. Chief Justice: 1785. HON. GEORGE DUNCAN LUDLOW. Assistant Judges: HON. JAMES PUTNAM, HON. ISAAC ALLEN, HON. JOSHUA UPHAM. Attorney General: JONATHAN BLISS. Solicitor General: WARD CHIPMAN. Clerk of the Crown in the Supreme Court: COLIN CAMPBELL. Clerk of the Circuit and Clerk of the Crown on the Circuit: WARD CHIPMAN. 1785. Law Students of the Last Century. 1800. Jonathan Sewell, jr., Thomas Wetmore, Gabriel V. Ludlow, Stephen Sewell, John Murray Bliss, Charles Jeffrey Peters, Robert Griffith Wetmore, Wm. Botsford, Thos. Murray, and Bartholomew Crannell Beardsley. “Go thou thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot in the end of the days.” No. 5 – The St. John Common Council, the ladies of New Brunswick, and the Centennial Celebrations, 1883. J. W. LAWRENCE.